Season 22 Solo HC Leveling Start Strategy

With the PTR coming up in a couple days, that means the next season is almost here. And with GoD being Haedrig’s Gift next season, obviously you’ll want as fast as a start to Level 70 as possible. Unfortunately, as everyone here knows, the first hurdle you’ll reach is getting to Level 14 so you can use Fan of Knives with LGF. As a solo player, it sometimes feels disheartening as you watch all of your friends reach Level 30 by the time you finally got there.

This mainly covers Hardcore, where HoA1 traps are not an option. If running Softcore, the traps will be the fastest approach to getting Chakram, which is the key to keeping a massacre bonus. Then you grab the cube. If you don’t like running the traps, you can use this, as it’s a fairly consistent leveling method.

Video demonstration:

Typically on season start, people will give two extremely terrible pieces of advice on how to start the season. The first is to kill a boss such as Zoltun Kulle or Maghda. The second is to grab the cube immediately. Please, DO NOT do the above, as they’ll do nothing but slow you down significantly. Some people will try to validate it with “But the yellows”… Trust me, the yellows are not worth it. At best, you might get 3-4, at the cost of adding minutes to your run. And the gear will be outdated in 3 minutes anyway.

Then the absolute time killer, and this will add 15+ minutes to your run, is to try grabbing the cube before you’re Level 12. The Elder Sanctum is an amazing spot for massacre bonuses. You don’t even need to know what a massacre bonus is, and you can’t help but get 2 levels in that zone at the beginning, while just speeding to the cube.


Start on Master Difficulty.
Take your scoundrel’s bow.
Craft 2 one handed Level 5 hand bows.
Buy vendor gear (gloves, chest, leggings).
Teleport to Ruins of Sescheron, and go right to Eternal Woods.

You’ll see people suggest Temple of the Firstborn or Halls of Agony, but those aren’t really good for the DH pre chakram. The experience isn’t that great, and there are too many enemies. More enemies equals a higher massacre bonus though, correct? Well, sure, but the problem is, you’re going to have a super slow attack speed, so the odds of being overwhelmed and killed are pretty high. On the other hand, Eternal Woods has the best XP per monster of any zone in the game. It’s twice that of Halls of Agony. So, we’re offsetting getting a huge massacre bonus with getting a smaller massacre bonus, but with vastly more experience per monster. Thus, an overall time savings.

Run Eternal Woods until Level 7+. This all depends on how good you are at keeping a massacre bonus. Remember to change over to the two one handed bows at Level 5, as this will buy attack speed. If at all possible, try to hold off on opening the Cursed Chest until you are equipped with them, as this will allow more kills, thus a higher massacre bonus.

At Level 7+, switch over to Campaign on Hard. Yes, Campaign.

Run the Campaign as quickly as you can until you have to face Mira. Don’t worry about monster kills. They’re not worth the experience.

Start the quest to kill Mira, Haedrig’s Wife. Kill her, but don’t turn in the quest.
Exit the game.
Set the difficulty to T6.
Resume the game.
Turn in the quest.

If you’re not Level 12 yet, repeat the quest. Exit the game, set to Normal/Hard, change the quest to A Shattered Crown. Kill Mira, exit game, set to T6, turn in. Repeat until Level 12.

At Level 10+, start checking the ring vendors for +dmg rings & amulets. The nice thing about the campaign is that the Act One ring vendor is right outside the spot you fight Mira. On every run to fight her, and every completion of the quest, I’ll quickly check to see if she has the jewelry. If not, buy it when you switch to Adventure Mode. A quick tip for the Act One ring vendor. Teleport to Weeping Hollow for quick access to the vendor.

At Level 12, craft a Level 12 bow, set the difficulty to Hard, and then run and grab the cube. Make sure you have Chakram equipped, and Tactical Advantage. Then, just grab the cube.

This should take anywhere from 20-25 minutes, at which point you’ll be Level 15-20, depending on the massacre bonus. If you want a comparison, check out any solo Demon Hunter 1-70 on YouTube. Unless they’re in SC starting with Traps, I’m willing to bet that this approach is faster.


Do you do bounties for Cains set after, do rifts or keep getting massacre bonuses in some area ?

After a bunch of testing, I’ve determined that the preferable amount is to run 0-2 bounty sets once you get your Level Reduce Weapon. How many depends upon the actual Level of the Weapon. That is, run 2 if it’s Level 40, 1 if Level 43, 0 if 45+. So no, you won’t be getting Cain’s, but the early levels are easy to get past due to the overwhelming power of Karlei’s & LGF cubed. Anyway, you’ll want to get the bosses done ASAP, while you can still quickly kill them. Then do the rest of the bounties. Try to focus on Acts 3, and 5. Now, if it’s 0 or 1 bounty sets, you can also throw in Act 4, as it’s possible to get 5 bounties without needing to kill a boss.

The reason for those are, they are the most annoying bounties. And what a lot of people get wrong is that opening day is not only just the leveling process, but also the Haedrig’s Gift process. Even the top players who hit 70 in under an hour end up taking 90+ minutes to complete the first 4 chapters, and bounties are a significant portion of that. And while you’ll need 5 jewel crafting recipes for Chapter IV, you can get 3 of them from the Act 2 vendor. For 2, you’ll just need 7 million gold, which you should have by that point in time. And for Chapter III, you have to do all 5 bounties anyway, so might as well get 2 of the most annoying ones out of the way, built into your leveling process. And the reason why completing them at the 40-50 range (or whatever the Level Reduce starts at) is that’s when you’ll be at your most overpowered where you can take them on T4+.

As for the leveling process itself, on the PC, on Softcore, you’ll mainly want to focus on Temple of the Firstborn on T6. With Hardcore, this depends on your comfort level, as well as server/connection stability, along with the item you have cubed. TotFB is an Always Be Moving Forward strategy, where any stopping, even for a couple seconds, can get you killed. Unfortunately, that’s one where you’ll really need to be feeling it out for yourself. The daggers definitely give you power to go to a much higher difficulty, but without a fair amount of practice, and staying alert the entire leveling process, you might as well just rift.

For HC, if you don’t want to upgrade the daggers, Sin Seeker’s is also a very viable option if you prefer to rift. LGF is better suited for massacre bonuses.

For console players, if LGF & SC, it’s TotFB. Otherwise just rift. Massacre bonuses work a bit differently (as demonstrated below), and it’s really not worth focusing on.

If you have sufficient gold, you can buy both hellfire ring patterns and the hellfire amulet pattern, and get all five recipe requirements because the amulet teaches the jeweller to make STR, DEX and INT hellfire amulets so it counts for 3 recipes.


I’ve practiced a bunch your tech in HC and it did require practice to get right, it’s true that getting to a lvl where mobility is available make the progression a lot safer, at lvl 18 with twin shakrams and a dagger cubed nothing can stop a DH on hard mode.

Seems to my testing that doing a bounty set or 2 right after getting the cube doesn’t take long and provides Born + Cains set for a whopping xp bonus.
Act 3 bounties are the longest, I’d try to do them after getting access to furret rune for companion at lvl 46-ish for 10% move speed.

When i can equipped my reduced lvl dagger i jump to T1 rifts until about lvl 60 then go down to master or hard depending on how lucky gearing was.

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If doing T1, either Karlei’s or LGF + Temple of the Firstborn is easily within the possibility, with safety. Personally, I tend to stay at T4 up until Level 64ish. But I wouldn’t suggest that to most people, as it requires a fair amount of practice. T1, you could run Chakram and save your blood shards and death breaths altogether.

With TotFB, it’s all about the small bugs. Don’t bother with the other enemies.

If wanting to avoid using the cube altogether:

Set to T1.
Tactical Advantage is a must.
Twin Chakram enemies to keep a massacre going, and if you see a large group of bugs, use Fan of Knives on them.
Just run. Save your Vault for situations you get trapped.

As long as you buy the best gear possible from vendors (don’t craft gear, just check vendors between every run), you’ll be plenty powerful enough and tough enough to survive with ease. It’s about 2-3 Levels per run up until about Level 55ish, with each run being about 3-4 minutes.

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Just in case ( maybe it was mentioned above ) about lvl 70 item crafting. You need a mace with life per hit ( to exclude life per kill in secondaries ) and with % to freeze, stun, blind etc in secondaries. In this case you have a really good chance to roll -30% lvl requirements.

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Do you think your method would be efficient for a crusader? I switched to HC this last season so it’s been forever since I leveled all the way solo. This leveling method seems like it has the potential to be faster all around. If I find some time, I may try it out once with the sader. Anyways, thanks for the post!

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This is a DH SSF particular strategy. For every other class, you’d want to run Temple of the Firstborn.

Obviously, adjust the following difficulties for your personal taste.

Witch Doctor runs TotFB until 12 @ T1.
Crusader runs TotFB until 13 @ T1.
Necromancer runs TotFB until 10 @ T2.
Barbarian, Monk and Wizard run TotFB until 10 @ T1.

Your goal with the Witch Doctor & Crusader is 7-8 minutes. For the Necromancer, 3-4 minutes. Barbarian, Monk, Wizard, about 5-6 minutes.

Temple of the Firstborn uses an Always Be Moving Forward strategy. While there are enemies who have ranged attacks, provided you are moving forward, you should not be hit. And there’s only 1 elite & 1 named enemy per run. Should you run into them, get out of there. Both typically are horribly slow though, so you’re just hoping it’s not Vortex. If it is Vortex, sacrifice your massacre bonus, and get out of there ASAP. You’ll get enough XP by the end of the dungeon run anyway.

Pre-craft your weapons. Every class uses a Level 5 Axe. Crusader will also want a Level 8 Two Handed Axe, a Level 10 dagger, and a Level 8 Shield.

Provided you can keep massacre bonuses going for most of the dungeon, you’ll hit 13 easily enough by the end of your TotFB run, at which point, you’ll have Steed Charge.

Craft a Level 12 sword for your cube run, and buy the best vendor gear possible (I just check ring vendors). I’d suggest Hard difficulty, because for the cube, it’s all about getting there ASAP so you can use your cubed item. You can play higher difficulty, but it becomes a slog, and not worth the XP per time spent. Goal is 6-8 minutes from Entering Ruins of Sescheron to grabbing the cube.

Total time for the Crusader should be 15-16 minutes max to have the cube, while being roughly Level 20-23.

Obviously, this is for SSF. None of the above is efficient at all if you can play with groups. If you can group with another player, you can use snapshot leveling (though some will call this an exploit), but be roughly Level 25-30 by the 18-20 minute mark. And every class focuses on Level 10.

Now, if you want the absolute ultimate speed to leveling, you’ll want a Necromancer as your partner. And this is a completely different strategy. The Necromancer levels up to 22, while the other player (doesn’t matter the class), focuses on finding Cursed Spire, Cursed Bellows, or Cursed Peat (in that order of preference) @ Level 1 on T6 difficulty. When the Necromancer is 22, they’ll join your game, and run the cursed chest, while you just wait at the waypoint. Afterwards, they’ll buy new gear while you look for any cursed chest. And repeat the process. You wait at the waypoint, they’ll run you through the cursed chest. This will put you anywhere from Level 28-33 and the Necro from Level 37-42 at the 18-20 minute mark.

Awesome! Thank you very much for your detailed response. It’s much appreciated!! Since I’m playing HC, I’ll most likely play solo to level, but you never know! Thanks again and gl next season!

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Does anyone have a level by level skill progression guide for SC leveling. I plan to craft a dagger at the cube first and then save my shards to gamble for quiver @lvl 31.

This is my first time leveling a DH. I know to do the blades in the beginning until level 12 and go for cursed chess to get massacre bonus, but any more tricks?

Cursed Chests are a necro only approach, and not really that great for any other class (other than a Witch Doctor, or a monk who has a WKL).

The DH approach you want to take depends on your comfort level with practicing, what weapon you get, etc.

Lord Greenstone’s Fan:

DO NOT attempt this if you’re not willing to practice this ahead of the season. It is an extremely difficult leveling approach, probably the hardest in the game.

Sandro193 recorded his 1-70 last season which took him 58 minutes.

I also had a console demonstration which, in which I inadvertently ended up with the same skills in roughly 2 hours. With the PC version, you want to focus on massacre bonuses. With the console version, because massacre bonuses give nearly zilch in XP, your goal is to race towards the last room, which has a guaranteed quest while killing bug packs. You do all of this on T6 (T4 or below if HC, depending on your comfort level).

Season Start

Complete Challenge Rift.
Create Character.
Buy armor from vendor (gloves, tunic, pants).

Initial leveling - Halls of Agony Traps (T6): Levels 1-12

You may need to run this a few times. At each restart, buy any better available gear at the closest merchant.

Level Skill Skill Rune
1 Hungering Arrow -
4 Caltrops -
6 Hungering Arrow Puncturing Arrow
8 Smoke Screen -
9 Vault -
10 Thrill of the Hunt -

Grab the cube - Ruins of Sescheron/Elder Sanctum (Hard): Levels 12-14+

Craft a Level 12 bow.
Buy +dmg jewelry (rings / amulet)

Level Skill Skill Rune
12 Caltrops -
12 Chakram -
14 Fan of Knives -

Leveling until Level Reduce Weapon - Temple of the Firstborn : 14-40ish

Every single restart, check the vendors for better gear.

Upgrade & Cube Dagger (Lord Greenstone’s Fan)
If wanting extra toughness, gamble Wraps of Clarity. These will be the only bracers you can get until 34, so the longer you hold out, the better they’ll be. Since you won’t have Death Breath to cube, you will be wearing these the entire time.

Level Skill Skill Rune
- Hungering Arrow -
- Chakram -
- Impale -
- Bolas -
- Smoke Screen Displacement
- Preparation -
16 Vault Action Shot
19 Strafe -
19 Companion -
19 Preparation Invigoration
20 Blood Vengeance -
23 Fan of Knives Pinpoint Accuracy
24 Bolas Thunder Ball
29 Companion Bat Companion
30 Hot Pursuit -
35 Thrill of the Hunt -
35 Perfectionist -

Leveling with Level Reduce Weapon - Temple of the Firstborn : 40ish-mid 50s

You’re after a Level Reduced One Handed Mace. You must have vitality on that. Life on Hit is also useful for getting a low level one. And Dexterity if possible too. For extra defense, you can use a shield.

Level Skill Skill Rune
- Fan of Knives Knives Expert
- Preparation Punishment

Finish Leveling - Temple of the Firstborn : Mid 50s-70

At Level 61, with your remaining materials, craft as many pieces of Level 61 gear as you can for the extra toughness.

Level Skill Skill Rune
- Fan of Knives Pinpoint Accuracy
- Preparation Invigoration
66 Hot Pursuit -
66 Awareness -

Thank you BehindTimes for the detailed post. Much appreciated.

Season Start

Complete Challenge Rift.
Create Character.

Don’t you have to create the seasonal character first, then select it, then do the Challenge Rift?

Only heroes that existed prior to successfully completing the Challenge Rift are eligible to collect the cache from the in-game mail system once you’ve obtained it. That’s why the advice is to always create your seasonal hero, start a game with it (i.e. put it into town), leave game, then run the Challenge Rift.

That is not true. As long as the season begins before you complete the Challenge Rift, you can collect it. Most of the quickest players take this route.

Now, there has been a bug the past couple seasons in which the season isn’t announced, but you can still complete it even not knowing the season begins, and when you restart, you can collect. The main issue here is that you want to make sure the season has officially begun. Because not all players are affected by this bug, you can join a large community, and just make sure one of them has the Season Flag.

Now, if you don’t want to take this approach, and feel that it’s better to be safe than sorry, that’s perfectly fine. I’m just stating that this isn’t needed.

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I was under this impression as well…since the moment you complete the CR it mails the cache out, how would the system know to mail it out to a character that doesn’t exist???

Pretty sure every streamer/guide advises to create seasonal toon, start game, leave game, do CR, profit. Many post about it as well since the CR is on a Monday and Seasons never (?) start on Monday. They even tell you to run it to the RG and then exit.

I would think if what you said was true OP, then they’d have mentioned it.

At least for the past 3-4 Seasons I’ve successfully done it without entering the game first. Just create the character, and make the CR while having that active, that’s enough.

It probably is, but most people enter a game first to be sure :slight_smile:

OP is suggesting you don’t have to create the character first.